SCOTLAND’S digital technologies industry experienced strong growth in 2015 and confidence remains high for the year ahead, according to new research by ScotlandIS.

The Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2016, which was published today, reveals that 68 per cent of businesses achieved sales growth in 2015, with over a quarter reporting an increase in turnover of 20 per cent or more.

The annual survey also found that the proportion of companies selling their products or services overseas continued to increase from 57 per cent the previous year, with over 60 per cent reporting some international sales in 2015.

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Looking ahead, 81 per cent of businesses expect sales to increase over the next 12 months and 70 per cent are optimistic or very optimistic about the coming year, with the industry on course to continue its rapid growth.

Polly Purvis, CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “Our industry has experienced exceptional growth in recent years and 84,000 people are now employed in digital technologies roles across Scotland.

“It’s really positive to see that so many of our members are expecting sales growth in 2016 and the increase in the number of companies doing business overseas is particularly encouraging.”

Computing students will be pleased to hear that graduates will once again be in high demand, with 74 per cent of businesses expecting to hire people who have recently completed their studies.

Overall, the recruitment market should remain strong, with two thirds of businesses planning to increase employee numbers in 2016. Software and web development are the most sought after skill sets, followed by business skills such as project management, sales and marketing.

Purvis added: “2015 was an exceptional year in terms of demand for new staff and demand continues to outstrip supply. Most of our members report difficulties in finding the staff they need, so we must continue efforts to develop a strong and sustainable talent pipeline.

“Scotland has the potential to create 70,000 new digital technologies jobs over the next five years but investment in connectivity, skills, research and to provide growth capital will be needed.”

Medium-sized businesses achieved the best performance in 2015 with 82 per cent reporting increased sales, while 47 per cent reported improved profit margins.

The proportion of medium-sized companies exporting grew from 49 per cent to 70 per cent and nine out of 10 businesses expect sales to increase in 2016.

Scotland’s digital technologies industry generates more than £5 billion in GVA and, according to KPMG’s Tech Monitor, the number of tech sector enterprises in Scotland grew 43.3 per cent between 2010 and 2015, second only to London (54.6 per cent).